Germany 1923: Hyperinflation, Hitler's Putsch, and Democracy in Crisis
Author: Volker Ullrich
In Germany 1923, award-winning historian Volker Ullrich draws on letters, memoirs, newspaper articles, and other sources to present a captivating new history of those explosive 12 months. The crisis began when France invaded the Ruhr Valley in January to force Germany to pay the reparations it owed under the Treaty of Versailles, which had ended the Great War. For years, German leaders had embraced inflationary policies to finance the costs of defeat, and, as Ullrich demonstrates, the invasion utterly destroyed the value of the German mark. Before the war, the exchange rate was 4.2 marks to the dollar. By November 20, 1923, a dollar was worth an incomprehensible 4.2 trillion marks, and a loaf of bread cost 200 billion. Facing the abyss, many ordinary Germans called for a national messiah. Among the figures to vie for that role was Hitler, a 34-year-old veteran who possessed a uniquely malevolent personal magnetism. Although the Nazi coup in November was put down and Hitler arrested, the putsch showed just how tenuous the first German democracy, the Weimar Republic, was at its core.